Sam Chelanga Becomes the First American to Win Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Since 1990
Veronica Nyaruai Wanjiru of Kenya Wins Women's Race on the Third Stop of the 2015-16 PRRO Circuit
by Keith Peters
April 3, 2016, Washington, DC--Thirty-one year-old Sam Chelanga, a naturalized American citizen who was born in Kenya, won the 44th Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile in a time of 48:25.1 today. The last American male to win Cherry Blossom was Chris Fox in 1990. Twenty-six year-old Kenyan Veronica Nyaruai Wanjiru won the women's race in a time of 53:11.6. Conditions were less than ideal, with temperatures in the mid-30s and winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour during the race, thus slowing all runners' times considerably.
After the race, Chelanga told reporters: "My coach said, 'just do the race, don't worry about the wind,' so that's what I did."
In fact, everyone in the men's race seemed worried about the wind as they ran in a pack as big as 10 runners for much of the first seven or eight miles. Then, Chelanga and two other runners surged and opened a gap. With a mile or so to go, Chelanga threw down his gloves and the gauntlet, but only prevailed by a second over Kenyan Silas Kipruto (48:26.3), and three seconds over fellow American Martin Hehir (48:28.4) at the finish line. Chelanga took home $8,000 for the victory and an additional $5,000 as first American; Kipruto won $4,000; Hehir was awarded $2,000 for third place as well as an additional $2,500 for second place among Americans.
Rounding out the men's top-10: Terefa Debela Delesa of Ethiopia (48:49.8) won $1,500; Philemon Cheboi of Kenya (48:51.7) won $1,000; Nelson Oyugi of Kenya (48:55.1) won $900; Tolossa Gedefa Fufi of Ethiopia (48:58.8) won $800; Philip Langat of Kenya (49:01.0) won $700; American Christo Landry (49:04.7) won a total of $3,100 ($600 for ninth overall and $2,500 for second American); and Tom Anderson of Great Britain (49:26.3) won $500.
For the first time in 10 years, the elite women started with the men today, and surely benefited from running in the larger pack. The change in starting procedure was one of many concessions made on account of the weather conditions. Among the other changes were an elimination of all signage on the course, no clocks at mile markers and no start/finish scaffolding.
Women's winner Veronica Nyaruai Wanjiru led the women throughout the race, followed closely by eventual second place runner Buze Diriba of Ethiopia (53:19.4). Maegan Krifchin (55:00.0), first American and third place overall, had to work her way through the field after being out of the top five in the first few miles. Krifchin was a late entry into the race, getting a call from her agent after 8 p.m. last night, and was she happy about that.
"I love to race," said Krifchin, "but certainly wasn't expecting this. I had no preconceived notions about how the race would go, because I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, so I just went out to have fun."
Wanjuri took home $8,000 for the victory, Diriba won $4,000 and Krifchin doubled-dipped to take home $2,000 for third overall and $5,000 for first American.
Rounding out the women's top-10: Three-time champion Lineth Chepkurui (`08, `09, `10) of Kenya (55:26.9) won $1,500; Sarah Kiptoo of Kenya (55:30.4) won $1,000; American Serena Burla (55:57.1) who was another late entry, won a total of $3,400 ($900/$2,500); Etaferahu Temesgen of Ethiopia (56:23.3) won $800; Gladys Cheboi of Kenya (56:34.8) won $700; American Allie Kieffer (56:42.6) was the last to double-dip to take home $2,100 ($600/$1,500); and Veronica Maina of Kenya (57:20.2) won $500.
With American prize money being paid to the top-10 Americans, the following men and women enjoyed the windy payday: Spencer Gardner (51:03.5) won $1,000 as fourth American; Malcolm Richards (51:15.5) won $800; Carlos Jamieson (51:16.7) won $600; Andrew Weaver (51:18.0) won $400; Brian Flynn (51:19.1) won $300; Christopher Sloane (51:26.3) won $200; Andrew Brodeur (52:00.0) won $200; Julia Roman-Duval (58:29.2) won $1,000 as fourth American woman; Caroline Bauer (59:24.5) won $800; Heather Cappello (59:55.9) won $600; Mary Dell (59:58.9) won $400; Kerry Allen (1:00:14.4) won $300; Perry Shoemaker (1:00:55.5) won $200; and Katie O'Regan (1:01:16) won $200.
Other notable finishes included: 40-year-old Meb Keflezighi, who chose to run with the six minute pace group and finished in 1:00:40.5; 58-year-old Joan Benoit Samuelson, who ran a hard-fought 1:07:27; and 66-year-old Ben Beach, who ran 1:40:24 to finish his 44th consecutive Cherry Blossom Ten Mile. The 5K Run-Walk winners were Sylvain Clarenne (18:31) and Melanie Nakagawa (22:47).
In addition to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and 5K Run-Walk races, there is typically a 1K Kids' Run, which was cancelled because of the high winds and cold temperatures.
Over 26,000 runners submitted applications to participate in the 2016 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5K Run-Walk, and the list of accepted runners represented all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. The official number of starters this morning was16,340.
Since 2002, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5K Run-Walk have raised over $7.5 million for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. The 2016 event will mark the 15th year of title sponsorship by Credit Union Miracle Day.
About the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile:
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom is known as "The Runner's Rite of Spring" in the Nation's Capital. The staging area for the event is on the Washington Monument Grounds, and the course passes in sight of all of the major Washington, DC Memorials. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a consortium of 170 premier children's hospitals across the United States. About one-third of the funds raised support Washington, DC's own Children's National Medical Center ("Children's Hospital"). The event also funds two $5,000 Road Runners Club of America "Roads Scholar" grants designed to support up-and-coming U.S. distance running talent.
Credit Union Miracle Day, Inc., a consortium of credit unions and credit union suppliers, is the title sponsor of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk. PSCU is the lead financial partner of Credit Union Miracle Day, Inc. Supporting sponsors include Cabot Creamery Cooperative, E-Trade, Gatorade, Gold's Gym, MarathonFoto, MedStar Sports Medicine, Navy Federal Credit Union, New Balance, Potomac River Running and Suburban Solutions Moving Company.
The event is a proud member of the PRRO Circuit (PRO.org), a five-race non-marathon prize money circuit with events in Utica, NY; San Juan, PR; Washington, DC; Spokane, WA; and Pittsburgh, PA. The circuit is committed to a drug-free sport and funds USADA to conduct drug testing at all circuit events. The winning male and female at Cherry Blossom are eligible for the $10,000 PRRO Super Bonus if they win the PRRO Championship presented by the Boilermaker Road Race on July 10, 2016; if they place in the top 10 at the PRRO Championship, they will earn the PRRO Event Champions' bonus of $1,500.
In addition to being sanctioned by USA Track & Field and the Road Runners Club of America, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run recently earned Gold certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for its many environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.
About America's Credit Unions:
Credit unions provide consumers choices for financial services such as checking accounts, investments and loans of all kinds including mortgages. Funds are federally insured, but unlike banks, there are no stockholders at credit unions. Earnings are returned to member-owners in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings rates, low or no-fee products and services. The credit union philosophy of placing members' needs first is why more than 104 million Americans do their banking at one of America's 6,300 credit unions. Credit unions are for everyone - no matter where you live, there is a credit union to meet your needs.
To find a credit union near you visit: asmarterchoice.org or culookup.com.